A MESSAGE FROM L. NEIL SMITH
- Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 12:13:33 -0700
From: "L. Neil Smith" <lneil@...>
To: Matthew Gaylor <freematt@...>
Subject: Thanks, Matt!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PLEASE POST FAR AND WIDE
A MESSAGE FROM L. NEIL SMITH
I've been writing for publication since I was about 10 years old,
and writing novels for 25 years. In all that time, I've refrained from
responding to book critics.
In the first place, there didn't seem to be much dignity in it.
Also, I've always figured a bad review coming from the right critic
could only enhance my sales. Mostly, because critics as a class (I've
known some) are failed subcreatures who can only make a mark in the
world by attacking the achievements of others, I reasoned that the
most painful wound I could inflict on them was to ignore them -- and
let it be widely known that I never look at anything they write.
In this case, I have no choice. It seems _Publisher's Weekly_ and
_Book List_ don't care for my new novel _The American Zone_ (or what
it's worth, _Library Journal_ differs with them), and that someone who
agrees with them has posted their reviews on Amazon.com, so they'll be
the first evaluation anyone sees.
Understand, I don't care how _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_
feel about my work. I knew from the start of my career that socialists
who call themselves "liberals" were going to hate every word I write,
and resigned myself to nothing but bad notices. I'm surprised now and
then by a good review, but in some ways those are more dangerous than
bad ones, and I've never taken them seriously, one way or another.
But I must take these reviews seriously, because this is not just
an instance of someone not liking what I've written. It's an attempt
to make what I've written go away because -- even before the terrible
events of September 11 proved me right beyond question and discredited
them for all time -- it casts doubt on their fondly cherished and
hysterically held misconceptions.
_Publisher's Weekly_ says, " ... lines like 'an armed playground
is a polite playground' may put off those who don't share Smith's
views. This preachy book sends a message that rings hollow in the
world post-September 11." Mind you, an armed playground would have
prevented the Columbine massacre and similar acts perpetrated in
America's self-defense-free zones. _Publisher's Weekly_ doesn't care.
_Book List_ says, "Nobody connected with the book is to blame for
its release at just this moment in history, but ... the yarn's high
body count, terrorist incidents, and such scenes as ... an 11-year-old
girl buying weapons and drugs may raise hackles outside Smith's
hard-core libertarian fandom." Would this reviewer really rather see a
little girl raped in an alley and strangled with her own panties, than
see her with a gun in her hand? You tell me.
They like to play dirty. They grudgingly admit I couldn't have
thought this book up and rushed it into print after September 11, but
it would never have occurred to anyone to wonder if they hadn't
mentioned it. They wish you to believe that's what I did. I can't
recall when I began creating the characters and story that would
become _The American Zone_, but in 1995, six years before the attacks
on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, I read a synopsis of it to a
convention audience. I have the videotape to prove it.
Over the course of my career, like many another science fiction
writer, I've managed to successfully predict thing like the digital
watch, the laptop computer, the Internet as we know it, the collapse
of the Soviet Union, that the Y2K "crisis" would come to nothing, and
that individuals carrying personal weapons would trigger a precipitous
reduction in the rate of violent crime.
I'd never claim I predicted September 11 in _The American Zone_.
(The calamity at the beginning more closely resembles what happened to
Oklahoma City's Murrah Building, fresh in my mind at the time.) What I
did predict -- the very reason I wrote the book -- was that an event
like September 11 would be ruthlessly exploited by evil politicians to
enhance their power, at the expense of everyone else's freedom.
This, of course, is just what's happening today. September 11 --
an historic equivalent to the Reichstag Fire that gave Hitler an
excuse to turn Germany into a fascist dictatorship -- has given the
current regime an excuse to Nazify America.
Ironically -- at the risk of spoiling one of my novel's surprises
-- it's just been announced that a group is being formed to harass and
intimidate anyone who opposes this Nazification process. The man
behind that effort is none other than former drug "czar" William
Bennett -- who's also the "philosopher-thug" villain of _The American
Zone_. Another accurate prediction from the keyboard of yours truly.
In almost the same words _Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ try
to dismiss a major point made by _The American Zone_. A point brutally
confirmed by the unavoidable realities of September 11. A point they
don't want to be forced to think about. A point they don't want you to
think about, either.
The point? That September 11 couldn't have happened in a culture
where anyone who takes personal charge of his own physical security
may not be interfered with. If a passenger or two aboard each of those
hijacked aircraft had been carrying a gun, the hijackings would never
have happened. It would never have occurred to anyone to hijack them.
Terrorists might have acted someplace else, in some other way, but not
the way they did on September 11.
The inescapable conclusion is that advocates of gun control (what
I've learned more accurately to call "victim disarmament") must accept
moral responsibility for 3000 excruciatingly unnecessary deaths. That
blood is on the hands of everyone -- including reviewers at
_Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ -- who supports today's victim
No wonder they hate my book and don't want you to see it. But _The
American Zone_ is something people need to read if we're to prevent
more terrorism, and at the same time preserve everything that makes
America worthwhile. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered to write it.
From now on, when I begin to read their opinions of other people's
work, I'll automatically wonder to what extent the political agenda of
_Publisher's Weekly_ and _Book List_ colors their judgment. I suggest
they stick with what's expected of them -- literary criticism -- and
leave politics to those of us who actually know something about it.
L. Neil Smith
Fort Collins, Colorado
Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23
books, including _The American Zone_, _Forge of the Elders_, _Pallas_,
_The Probability Broach_, _Hope_, and his collection of columns and
speeches, _Lever Action_, all of which may be purchased through his
website "The Webley Page" at http://www.lneilsmith.com Autographed
copies may be had from the author at lneil@....
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